Summary of keynote address by Gerry Salole
August 3, 2023

The 4th African Philanthropy Conference was hosted under the theme of “African Philanthropy at an Inflection Point”. Through this, the organisers of the convening hoped to stimulate conversations and participation from an audience of practitioners, researchers and leaders in the philanthropic sector. The conference was hosted in Saly, Senegal following the 2nd Academic Conference hosted in Dakar.


The second of four keynote speakers was Gerry Salole. He is a notable leader in the global philanthropy and social investment sector and currently coaches and consults at several organisations in the sector. Amidst a day brimming with invigorating discussions about African liberation, Gerry’s keynote address painted a vivid picture of hope and determination. He opened his address by celebrating the collective spirit of the many social movements that were represented, reverberating a call to arms and an emblem of the revolutionary power of community.


The cornerstone of his address was the celebration of unity in diversity. From calls for land reform, demands for social justice, the empowerment of women, to the clamour for the preservation of cultural heritage, the aspirations were manifold. Each plea, distinct yet intertwined, represented a unique thread in the vast collage of African dreams. However, Gerry deftly emphasised that beneath these diverse demands lay a singular, shared vision of a liberated and empowered continent.



Weaving the web further, Gerry’s narrative shifted to the annals of African history. By highlighting the indomitable spirit of our ancestors, he reminded the audience of the importance of our roots. The tales of bygone eras, filled with heroism, resistance, and perseverance, he argued, held the seeds of inspiration for our ongoing battles.


A moving anecdote from an Ethiopian village highlighted a bright picture of change fuelled by community efforts. An asphalt road, constructed solely through local initiative, stood as a testament to the pioneering power of grassroots movements. He emphasized that such endeavours, often dwarfed by colossal state projects, are the true embodiment of the continent’s insurmountable will. Gerry threw a challenge to the conventional top-down strategies employed by large organisations and governments. These distant, bureaucratic tactics, he contended, often lack the genuine touch and insight that solutions rooted in grassroots realities can offer. True transformation, he posited, cannot be ordained from ivory towers.


His clarion call was to recognize and elevate community initiatives. Far from being mere survivalist tactics, these ground-up endeavours are the dynamic engines that drive real, sustainable change. Their potential, he asserted, goes far beyond mere subsistence, offering a blueprint for holistic societal development. Personal tales punctuated Gerry’s assertion that effective solutions emerge when policies and programmes anchor on community needs. Such strategies, shaped and continuously refined by grassroots feedback, hold the key to genuine, lasting transformation.


In a poignant reminder, he highlighted the symbiotic nature of our battles. Whether it is the fight against colonization, the quest for civil rights, gender equality, or environmental justice, these struggles, while distinct, are deeply interconnected. Achieving success in one sphere, he mused, invariably paves the way for victories in others.


In conclusion, the message was clear and resonant – African liberation, with all its multifaceted challenges, finds its true strength in unity, solidarity, and the unwavering faith in the collective power of its people. The African dream, he reiterated, is forged not in isolation, but through the combined efforts of its diverse and relentless populace.